Rs 30,000-crore Indian ice-cream industry is predicted to grow by 13-15 per cent over the next few years


As 11-year-old Kyra Arora enters the newly opened ‘ice-cream studio’ near her home in Panchkula, her eyes light up. On offer is a mouthwatering range of bars, lollipop sundaes, popsicles, ice-cream sandwiches, gelatos and mini bites. The unending variety is no vanity enterprise. It’s an indication of a booming ice-cream market and the exponential demand for new and sumptuous products.

Historically, higher temperatures correlate with an increased appetite for refreshing treats. The Rs 30,000-crore Indian ice-cream industry is predicted to grow by 13-15 per cent over the next few years. As the key players — like Amul, Vadilal, Kwality Walls, Havmor, Naturals, Mother Dairy, Baskin Robbins, Giani’s, Basant and Scoops — up their game, regional and artisanal brands are venturing into the market space with gusto. Supermarkets are flooded with international brands — Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Stone, London Dairy and others — catering to the well-travelled customers who are ready to pay the high price these global brands command

In keeping with the demands of the country, which is the diabetic capital of the world, a range of low-fat, low-sugar ice creams is replacing the high-sugar offerings that dominated the market till a few years ago. According to Ludhiana-based Charanjit Singh Basant, managing director of Basant Ice Creams, which started manufacturing in 1952, “Earlier, people enjoyed ice creams that were made from heavy fat and were full of sugar, but this trend has changed post-Covid. Ice creams with lesser fat and sugar substitutes are high in demand now.”

“We have reduced the sugar content from 18 per cent to 16. Similarly, the fat content has been cut from 16 per cent to 11. Diabetic-friendly stevia-based low-calorie ice creams are very popular. We started with two sugar-free flavours. Today, we are offering more than 20 in the category. Our all-time bestsellers, however, are khoya kulfi stick and dry fruit varieties,” says Basant, who is also vice president of the Indian Ice Cream Manufacturers Association (IICMA)

Gurpreet Singh, managing director at Delhi’s legendary brand Giani’s, agrees, “Five years back, when we launched our sugarfree range, it hardly received any response. Today, our low-calorie, low-sugar ice creams are driving our growth.”

As the focus on health increases, there is also a high demand for ice creams fortified with vitamins, minerals and probiotics, says IICMA president Sudhir Shah. “There is a rising interest in options that cater to specific dietary preferences, including low-sugar, low-fat and dairy-free alternatives. Consumers are seeking transparency regarding ingredients and production processes. There is a heightened interest in natural and clean-label ice creams,” says Shah.

The forever go-to treat

“From a category that was associated with sporadic celebrations, ice creams have now moved towards self-indulgence and are seen as treats,” says Mohit Khattar, CEO, Graviss Foods Pvt Ltd-Baskin Robbins. Lately, he adds, the company has observed a trend towards the snacking segment. Baskin Robbins, which entered the Indian market three decades back, has created a niche for itself. Says Khattar, “We have opened 125 new parlours over the past one year, several of them in Punjab and Haryana. This is in addition to our presence in leading trade outlets as well as availability on online platforms. Our offering include several flavours and unique sundaes. Additionally, we have brought in fruity all-day mocktails called fruitinis, made with real fruit, milk and ice cream.”

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